The BYU women’s basketball team is one win away from having an undefeated home season after beating the University of Portland 79–64 on Thursday.
The Cougars (19–7) improve to 10–3 in the West Coast Conference, while the Pilots (10–17) drops to 5–9.
“This was a nice win,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “I thought defensively the first half we didn’t give them a lot of good looks… Defensively in the second half we just got beat off the dribble and didn’t really have the intensity that we needed to have.”
BYU’s defensive intensity held Portland to only 22.6 percent shooting in the first half. However, the defense let up in the second half and allowed the Pilots to shoot 45.5 percent.
“We were exchanging buckets rather than pulling away like we would’ve liked to do,” guard Haley Steed said. “I think sometimes we just lose focus and those are the times we really need to buckle down and defend.”
The second-half defense was the only aspect of BYU’s game that was sub par in the win against Portland. The offense was on fire for BYU, shooting above 50 percent in both halves, 51.7 percent overall. Steed and center Jennifer Hamson both scored 23 points.
“Those two I thought tonight were offensively really in tune,” Judkins said. “I thought (Steed) had an outstanding game. I thought (Hamson) had a hard time guarding them, but they couldn’t guard her.”
Steed shot 75 percent while also dishing out nine assists in her second-to-last home game of her career. The senior shot a perfect 6–6 in the second half.
“Great game by (Steed),” Judkins said. “She’s an all-around player. A great scorer when she needs to be, passer, defender (and) leader.”
Hamson grabbed eight rebounds to go along with her 23 points, which tied her career high in points. The Cougars outscored the Pilots 42–18 in the paint. After struggling for a little while, Hamson is getting back into the swing of things.
“I was kind of going through a little funk,” Hamson said. “But my team stuck by me and believed in me. So I tried to focus more and just work through it.”
The key BYU bench player of the game was Ashley Garfield. She had six rebounds on Thursday, five of them offensive rebounds. She also contributed seven points.
“Ashley is a coach’s dream,” Judkins said. “She works hard (and) she’s tough… She’s a great player to come off the bench to give us that spark that we need.”
The Cougars’ win against Portland is Judkins’ 250th victory as head coach.
BYU faces Gonzaga, the number one team in the WCC, on Saturday for its last home game of the season. During halftime, former All-American Jackie Beene McBride will have her jersey retired.